Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sun-Dried Tomato 'Cheesecake'

This savory cheesecake is not a dessert, but a beautiful party appetizer in place of, say, a cheese ball. And of course, instead of regular cream cheese, I used Tofutti's vegan Better Than Cream Cheese.

Ahead of time, you also want to make the vegan equivalent of cottage cheese for this recipe. In a bowl, combine 1 and 1/4 cups crumbled lite firm tofu (about 7 ounces) with 2 teaspoons lemon juice and 1/8 tsp. salt. Mash with a fork until the mixture resembles cottage cheese, then chill in the fridge for about 5 hours.

To make the crust, place 5 (1-ounce) slices of whole wheat bread in a food processor and pulse about 10 times until you have coarse crumbs. I used the organic whole wheat bread from the Vermont Bread company.

Combine the breadcrumbs in a bowl with 1/2 cup chopped parsley, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. grated lemon rind, and 1/2 tsp. black pepper.

Melt 1 tablespoon vegan butter (such as Earth Balance) in a small skillet over medium heat. Add 1 teaspoon olive oil and 1 minced garlic clove; cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Pour over the breadcrumb mixture, and stir to combine with a fork.

Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper - I felt like I was back in art class, cutting out a circle to fit! Press the breadcrumb mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Set aside.

(Note: if you don't own a springform pan, I highly recommend buying one. I might not use mine often, but when a recipe calls for one, it is invaluable).

Meanwhile, pour boiling water over 1 and 1/4 cups of sun-dried tomato halves (packed without oil). Let stand for 30 minutes, then drain and finely chop. Set aside.

Place your 'cottage cheese' in a blender or food processor, and process until smooth. Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, 1/4 tsp. salt, 4 (yes 4!) 8-ounce packages of vegan cream cheese, and the equivalent of 2 eggs using egg replacer (such as Ener-G). Process until smooth. I let the 'cream cheese' stand at room temperature just about 10 minutes ahead of time, but you don't really need to worry about letting them soften.

Add the chopped sun-dried tomatoes, 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil and 1/2 cup chopped canned artichoke hearts (drained). Process until smooth - and pink!

Pour the mixture evenly over the crust in your pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, then let cool to room temperature.

Once at room temperature, cover and chill; once chilled, cut into 24 wedges.

Bring back to room temperature before serving. One wedge plus about 3 Melba toast rounds makes a great little appetizer nosh of 170 calories. I like the organic Melba toast crackers from Devonsheer - you'll want 72 crackers total, which means buy 2 boxes.

whole wheat bread $4.39
parsley $1.69
sun-dried tomatoes packed without oil $2.69
lite firm tofu $2.69
vegan cream cheese $13.26
basil $2.99
canned artichoke hearts $3.39
Melba toast rounds $5.38

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The Vegan Pantry

  • Vegan yogurt - Whole Soy
  • Vegan milk - Silk
  • Vegan Feta - Sunergia
  • Vegan Cheese - Galaxy Foods
  • Vegan Eggs - Ener-G
  • Vegan Butter - Earth Balance